News / Africa

Zuma to Push Africa Infrastructure at Davos

A Johannesburg resident walks on Mandela Bridge over railroad tracks in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2006.
A Johannesburg resident walks on Mandela Bridge over railroad tracks in Johannesburg, South Africa, June 29, 2006.
TEXT SIZE - +
Anita Powell
— South African President Jacob Zuma won’t only be representing his nation at next week’s World Economic Forum in Switzerland -- he’ll be representing all of Africa. 

Zuma has been appointed by the African Union to push the world’s top economies to focus on boosting Africa’s infrastructure.  Experts say the state of the continent's roads, electrical grids and other fixtures are keeping Africa from realizing its potential.  But with developed nations struggling with their own economic problems, it is unclear if Zuma's message will be heard.

Abundance amid poverty

Africa is the world’s poorest inhabited continent.  But in many ways, it’s also the richest.

The continent is the world’s second most populous, with more than 1 billion people, many of them young.  And the ground fairly teems with minerals and resources -- oil, natural gas, coal, gold, bauxite, platinum and diamonds among them.

But as Zuma plans to argue at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, the continent’s poor infrastructure is seriously holding it back.  

The United Nations has estimated that mineral-rich Congo, for example, has just 1,200 kilometers of good paved road in a nation the size of Western Europe.  In Ethiopia, farmers grow plentiful crops when the rains are good, but nearly starve during droughts because they have no irrigation systems.

Even South Africa, the continent’s economic powerhouse, struggles to provide basic services like water and electricity to all of its nearly 52 million people.

Children walk smong miner's shacks near Rustenburg, South Africa, Aug. 28, 2012.
Children walk smong miner's shacks near Rustenburg, South Africa, Aug. 28, 2012.

These small things that Americans and Europeans take for granted are key to unlocking Africa’s potential, Zuma has said.  South Africa has launched a major program to boost the nation’s infrastructure over the next 15 years.

South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela says Zuma will preach that message at next week’s forum.

“One of the priorities for South Africa this year is in the context of our infrastructure development program, the 4 trillion rand [$449 billion] infrastructure development program for South Africa, as well as considering the fact that President Zuma has been appointed by the African Union to champion infrastructure development on the continent," said Monyela. "That remains a key priority for us and it will be highlighted in Davos with a view to getting partners and other potential investors to come on board.”

Africa and the global economy

Michael Lalor, the Africa Business Center leader for international accounting firm Ernst and Young, says the company has identified three priorities for Africa: improving infrastructure, accelerating regional integration and creating a more investment-friendly environment.

None of those goals are new this year, but there are new economic crises afoot -- notably, political clashes in the United States over the huge national deficit and the Republican Party's demands for cuts in government spending.

Lalor says issues like those are likely to take center stage at next week's forum -- and asserts that is not bad news for Africa.

“Clearly, there are issues in the global economy elsewhere in the world that are far more immediately pressing than most, if not any, of the issues in Africa," he said. "I think we also need to be aware that increasingly African economies are tied into the health of the global economy.  So in many ways, I don’t think we should see it as a threat if Africa is not right up high on the agenda at this year’s World Economic Forum.  I think it’s in Africa’s best interests for us to be sorting out problems in other areas of the global economy, both emerging markets and some of the developed markets.”

The World Economic Forum opens Tuesday in Davos, Switzerland.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: David from: Washington DC
January 20, 2013 5:50 PM
DRCongo started commercial mining copper, diamond, cobalt, gold, zinc before 1920, petroleum since 1975 and coltan around 1990 but the outcome economic is very negative, no infrastructure and mining factory which it can improve economy of DRC. All of Africa almost has same problem while we export a great quantity of resource to the world. The World Trade has to review his policy toward Africa mainly DRCongo.


by: Tom12_3 from: Massachusetts
January 20, 2013 11:02 AM
The question of poverty in Africa is truly based on the backdrop of present practices and historical exploitation! It will take leadership to mobilise Africans to engage in trainings to gain skills that will in turn enable address issues of self sufficience. The leaders nned to take the initiatives to invest in what works. Africa must open its doors again ( 21st colonisation) but this time negotiations must not be based on a 'pinch of salt' shipped-in in place of gold and diamond carats shipped-out kind of deals. It is possible for Africa to be the next world power!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid